Heart disease and cancer are always neck and neck when it comes to the global killers. Last year saw a significant development – heart disease was named the leading cause of mortality worldwide among middle-aged adults but cancer overtook it in high-income countries. The findings published in the Lancet showed that cancer was responsible for twice the amount of deaths in rich countries.
The statistics on cancer and heart disease are a sobering reminder that chronic disease remains a very real threat to longevity.
The statistics also act a rallying cry to lead a healthy lifestyle in a bid to reduce your risk of developing them.
There is no foolproof way to fend off cancer and heart disease, but you can reduce your risk by eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Certain items should be included in your protective arsenal because they boast compounds that may offer a defence against chronic disease.
Cholesterol then clogs up your arteries, thereby hiking your risk of heart disease.
Sulforaphane – a compound found in broccoli – may also reduce your risk of heart disease by undoing the damage of another harmful mechanism – high blood sugar levels.
Professor Paul Thornalley and his team from the University of Warwick found sulforaphane encourages the body to produce more enzymes to protect the vessels, as well as reduce high levels of molecules which cause significant cell damage.
People with diabetes have a particularly high risk of heart disease because high blood sugar levels are linked to damaged blood vessels.
Professor Thornalley, at the University’s Warwick Medical School, tested the effects of Sulforaphane on blood vessel cells damaged by high glucose levels (hyperglycaemia).
His team observed a significant reduction of molecules in the body called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS).
Hyperglycaemia can cause levels of ROS to increase three-fold and such high levels can damage human cells.
The results of the study showed that Sulforaphane reversed this increase in ROS by 73 percent.
As Hobson reports, this same compound may help to protect against certain types of cancer.
This was the verdict of the World Cancer Research Fund report – Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.
It is suggested that the compounds found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli operate on genes that promote some of the hallmarks of cancer.
Other cruciferous vegetables include:
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens.